The 49ers will soon get some reinforcement in their secondary. Safety Jimmie Ward and cornerback Jason Verrett returned to practice today, per Matt Barrows of The Athletic (on Twitter). ESPN’s Nick Wagoner tweeted yesterday that the duo was expected to return to practice. The team later announced that the duo has been designated to return.
Verrett suffered a torn ACL during Week 1 of the 2021 campaign. He landed on PUP to start the 2022 regular season, and he’ll now have three weeks to show he’s ready to return. The 31-year-old has only had one relatively healthy campaign in three-plus years with the 49ers, as he was limited to only one game in 2019 thanks to an ankle injury. He started 13 games for San Francisco in 2020, finishing with 60 tackles and a pair of interceptions.
Cornerbacks Charvarius Ward, Emmanuel Moseley, and slot Deommodore Lenoir played 100 percent of San Francisco’s defensive snaps on Monday. Verrett probably won’t knock any of them out of the starting lineup, but he’ll help provide some experienced depth at the position.
Ward suffered a hamstring injury during the preseason, landing him on injured reserve. The 2014 first-round pick struggled with injuries early in his career but has been pretty healthy recently, missing only six games for the 49ers between 2019 and 2021. Last year, he started a career-high 16 games and finished with 77 tackles and two interceptions.
Both Talanoa Hufanga and Tashaun Gipson have filled in nicely for the veteran safety to start the 2022 campaign. Hufanga, a 2021 fifth-round pick, would likely be knocked to a backup role with Ward back in the lineup, although he’s ranked as PFF’s second-best safety in the NFL this year (among 82 qualifying players).